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  • Person eating a piece of berry pie
  • Once a product leaves our trucks, the work isn’t done – we are acutely aware of the impact our partners have on local communities and the planet. From how we market the products we supply, to the local organizations our associates support with their volunteer hours, we always aim to be responsible community members. 

  • What does 'local' mean to UNFI?

    We consider local communities to be any group of people living or working in areas that are impacted, either positively or negatively, by our operations, associates, or customers.

Lorem Ipsum Dolor Sit Amet

Thanks in large part to our acquisition of conventional distribution and retail a few years ago, we now serve natural and conventional stores across North America. That said, as part of our ongoing effort to come together as ‘One UNFI’, we’re moving beyond ‘natural’ and ‘conventional’ and getting more specific about the products we offer to customers.

  • We rely on clear and accurate labeling, including, but not limited to, third-party certifications and verified standards, to help us send easy-to-understand messages about the value of the products we’re helping put on shelves. We also work with reputable partners in the industry to provide relevant information to our customers on product sustainability and nutritional value to support their preferences. The better we are at increasing our collective understanding, the more we can do to and can do more to make fresh, nutritious, and affordable food available to communities across North America, and the more value we can deliver to customers. 

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We have made traction in our overall waste reduction efforts, but we are still evaluating how our packaging contributes to our holistic waste footprint. We are at the beginning of our journey, but need to remember that not all packaging is inherently bad. We rely on it for food safety, quality assurance, and ease of transport. 

  • We started with an audit of a sampling of our distribution centers to figure out the exact materials that make up the packaging we use in everyday operations – looking at everything from pallets to protective coverings. With the results of that audit in hand, we can work on improving year-over-year by mitigating virgin cardboard and plastic, reducing and reusing materials, recycling and composting, and finally treating and disposing of waste as a last resort.

    We started this work in our distribution centers and are now also looking downstream to further amplify our efforts. As part of our Professional Services offerings, customers can take advantage of new food waste and shrink reduction technologies that precisely monitor metrics, such as storage temperature, serving sizes, and more.

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Helping Hands are our grassroots associate committees that drive philanthropic work and facilitate all of our community development opportunities on a local level. Associates can submit requests for donations to local nonprofits as part of the Helping Hands program. And, just like with our UNFI Foundation and financial donation recipients, we encourage associates to submit ideas for company-sponsored volunteer activities. COVID-19 has added a new challenge to in-person events, but associates are still able to virtually organize and participate in several company-wide fundraising and volunteer events each year. We will continue to expand volunteering opportunities and are proud to see our associates show up and make lasting impacts in our broader communities.

  • Company-wide volunteerism events through our Helping Hands program include delivering meals to those in need, setting up food drives for people and pets, championing fundraising walks and runs, and organizing park and other trash cleanups. 

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Recent Progress

Looking downstream means monitoring how we’re impacting the communities in which we live and work and providing even more valuable information and services to our customers. 

Too Good To Go Bag

Too Good to Go

We’ve solidified our partnership with Too Good to Go and, since the pilot in our Atlantic region, the app is now available in select cities coast to coast via UNFI’s Professional Services team, helping independent grocers take actionable steps to recoup lost revenue, increase profit margins, combat climate change, and address food insecurity.

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Customer Health & Safety Waste Reduction

Pride Month End Cap

Pride Month End Caps

We partnered with Stop & Shop, New England’s largest grocer, to place custom end caps on the aisles of more than 400 stores promoting LGBTQ+ suppliers during Pride Month 2022. Through this pilot initiative, we were able to onboard five new LGBTQ+-owned brands.

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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Responsible Procurement

UNFI President presenting check

Food Equity Grant

In 2022, we created UNFI’s Food Equity Grant – our largest ever grant to date – to find a partner through which we can help promote food equity, eliminate hunger, and improve public health in Rhode Island. The UNFI Foundation selected Southside Community Land Trust (SCLT), a nonprofit that works with Rhode Island farmers to increase the supply of local, organic produce by addressing key barriers of entry for small-scale, regenerative farmers.

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Community Development